Category One Development referee Lorraine Watson is set to take charge of the second-leg tie between Fortuna and Barcelona in the UEFA Women’s Champions League this week.
On International Women’s Day, the official, who has refereed at the Women’s European Championship as well as Men’s matches in the Scottish Cup and League Two, reflects on her journey in refereeing to date.
“It’s been a great experience for me and I’m proud of my progress in refereeing so far," Lorraine said.
“I’m an ambitious person. I was promoted to my current status in 2017 and then had a baby in 2018. I’ve perhaps dragged it out a bit as it usually takes a couple of years to decide whether you move up or down but I needed last season to get fully fit.
“Hopefully by summer it will be decided if I can make that step up to Category One, learning from your peers and then League One, Championship and Premiership. As a Category One official, you would be eligible to referee in any league in the country.”
As Watson prepares to oversee the midweek European clash in which Barcelona hold a 4-0 first-leg lead, she looks back at an appointment which made her realise her dream in refereeing was becoming a reality eight years ago.
“I ran the line for a game between Rangers and Berwick back in January 2013,” she said. “I was the first female official at Ibrox and that was an amazing experience.
“At that point I was a Category Three official, so it really benefitted me - no female official had ever had the exposure of running the line in front of 50,000 people before.”
Watson believes women refereeing in the men’s game is not as alien as it used to be, comparing the game today with her recollections from her earlier refereeing days.
She said: “Kylie Cockburn’s in the Premiership every week, so it’s just normal now and it’s not a big deal. In the past you would see shocked faces, but that isn't the case now.
“I remember at junior level, people would assume I was the assistant and then they’d see me walking out with the ball.
“That perception is changing I believe. I know there is still more work to do around it but the progress I’ve seen in recent years is really encouraging.”